Wear Sunscreen--Or, bitch about the sunscreen provided by your school because it is only SPF 15
The previous thread, on the graduation speaker, is probably the most vitriolic thread I have seen on N&B. As several commenters have pointed out, the speaker is set, and so there is little point in arguing about the merits of the speaker at this juncture. (For what it’s worth, I see no reason to expect anything other than a great speech, though I will form my final opinion AFTER I hear him speak. I'm sure he'll be great, but even if he sucks, it’s just not going to ruin my graduation day, you know?) Hopefully the previous thread gave everyone some catharsis, and now we can get back to being one big, happy family.
So let’s make some lemonade out of that thread’s lemons. Amidst all the sniping there were actually several good ideas for improving the process of selecting a graduation speaker. The following are my suggestions for improving this process, but please add on your thoughts in the comments. Also, I was not on the Graduation Committee, so if I mention anything that either was already tried or is absolutely impossible, please say so.
1) Timing: The 2008 Graduation Committee should form before the end of this school year. A preliminary list of speakers should be drawn up now. The Committee should also speak with the outgoing Committee, to get an idea of who 2007 spoke with, and who might have been interested. Send an email to the entire 2008 class this semester, asking for suggestions or potential connections. As soon as school resumes in the Fall, send an email asking again for any connections or suggestions. Make your first round of invites no later than Sept. 15th (if not significantly earlier).
2) Faculty Input: It sounds like the faculty was of little help on this. First, get at least two established faculty members on the Committee. Second, have connected faculty members send out letters/make phone calls in September (or earlier). Faculty members like DE, Big Willie Style, and Prof. Choper are incredibly well-connected—they alone ought to be able to bring someone great in!
3) Money: Boalt does not provide an honorarium and can only offer coach airfare and crappy hotel accommodations. How can we make the experience better for the speaker? The honorarium policy likely won’t change, and first/business airfare is upwards of $1500 from
I think we can improve the experience, though, by having the speaker stay at the
Armen points out that the Graduation Committee simply didn’t have the funds for these types of improvements. I think with a little bit of creativity, however, the Committee can raise additional funds. Other departments at Boalt do have the cash. What if BCLT agreed to have an event without lunch, with the lunch money instead going toward graduation? Could BCLT (or another well-funded organization) be convinced to make a donation? Or, why not form a student group dedicated to Boalt’s graduation that is eligible for GA funding? An eligible group can quite easily get several hundred dollars. And what about firm sponsors? Surely none of us would mind a firm’s name on the back of the program, if it helped to secure a graduation speaker. Heck, what about a 3L bake sale? Works for a lot of the student groups on campus.
Okay, I don’t know which of those ideas are feasible, but the point is that the money is out there, if we’re willing to find ways to get it.
4) Politics: Apparently the Committee’s first task each year is to eliminate just about any speaker who might be interesting, because the Left won’t cross picket lines and the Right won’t be warmly received by Boalt students. This is bullshit. Maybe it makes sense to stay away from politicians seeking office, but there are plenty of government officials, lawyers, etc. who are not overtly political. And I simply disagree that anyone on the Right is disqualified—I think Boalties are smarter than that, see, e.g., the warm reception Bob Barr received when he spoke here recently—or that the
5) Students: Involve students by sending quarterly updates, and reminding them that suggestions/connections are welcome. If nothing else, this will allow the Committee to manage expectations, and should limit complaining once the speaker is set.
6) Award: Give an award. Just make one up. Call it the Earl Warren Award for Excellence, or the Dean Prosser Award for Distinction, or the 1st Annual Montgomery Burns Award For Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Excellence. Give him/her a snazzy-looking plaque. We may not have an honorarium, or hand out degrees, but at least we can make the speaker feel special.
Well that’s all I got for now. Feel free to add on to the list, or tell me why my list is stupid. Do with it what you will, 2008.
Labels: Moving Out